I would think that you would probably have to be living in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan to not have heard about, or seen the video of, a group of Marines urinating on some Taliban corpses.
Personally, I’m a tad ambivalent about the whole thing.
Definition of AMBIVALENCE
1: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action
2 a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite) b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow
On one side: It’s entirely unprofessional. It’s arguably “desecration” in a legal sense, but a far cry from say; cutting off body parts, burning them, hanging them from bridges or putting heads on pikes. It has resulted in a political and media firestorm and it will probably end in a Court Martial just to appease the political and media gods.
On the other side: Yeah, these guys did something wrong; but something not exactly unheard of in the annals of War, and in the scope of military history something somewhat tame. While it is something we shouldn’t condone, the hue and cry for these Marines heads on pikes by the media (and youtube/facebook crowd of “never been there’s…never will’s”) falls somewhat flat on me.
On one side of the media coin a “former soldier” who goes on a killing spree back home is a poor victim of PTSD; while on the other side, these Marines who are STILL IN COMBAT are given the evil villan treatment. If it bleeds or pees it leads I guess.
IMO this should result in a Company Grade Article 15 (maybe a Field Grade for the stupidity of taping/allowing themselves to be taped and publicizing it) for the people involved.
On yet another side: Nobody seems to care about the whole process of what made these bodies, well, bodies in the first place. It’s like someone saying:
Hmmm, look dead bodies – OH MY GOD THEY ARE PEEING ON THEM!!!
The “outrage” seems strangely misplaced.
A good post to read can be found over on The Silver Tongue Blog. The author there says:
Note that no one, on either side (that Times article I linked to above contains quotes from Afghanis that I’ve omitted for brevity’s sake) seems to view the creating of the bodies as in any way problematic. It’s the peeing that’s the problem. Now, again, without downgrading the severity of the actions of the Marines in the video, I just want to throw it out there and say that if someone were to shoot me and then pee on my corpse, the peeing wouldn’t really be my biggest beef. It’s not like my dying thought after being shot would be “I hope they don’t pee on me after this.”
What I’m getting at is that upholding standards and values that create bodies but mandate particular treatment of them afterwards maintains the idea of war as a gentleman’s game, something engaged in with a degree of civility and mutual respect. I’m not saying that war should just be some free-for-all where people can pee on whatever corpses they want all willy nilly or whatever, and I’m not even saying that outrage at said peeing is misplaced in any way. I’m also not attempting to put down everyone who did a tour in any of our like jillion wars over there and peed only where they were supposed to. I’m just saying that the state of being “at war” with someone is an ugly business to begin with, and that upon some reflection I’ve considered that maybe our collective outrage over this isn’t really about who did what to whose corpses, but maybe over being confronted with the grim reality of those corpses in the first place, and our disappointment over the horrible things people can be driven to do when they can’t handle the pressure of being forced to create a corpse or become one.
….which kind of nicely encapsulates my opinion on the matter too.
In the end what really worries me is the nonchalance about being videotaped and the lack of common sense and good judgement involved in putting it on the internet.
If after a brutal firefight a group of Marines urinate on some corpses as a cathartic and nobody but them knows about it (how would anybody else know? Its not like urine on the body would even be noticed by anybody shortly thereafter)…I wouldn’t loose too much sleep about THAT. Sure it’s still wrong and a Gunny should kick some ass if he sees it, but TAPING it and putting it on the internet? Nobody thought THAT was a bad idea? That worries me.